high stakes testing

Black Agenda Radio for Week of March 14, 2016

“Billionaires” Fund Defamation of Public Schools, Teachers

A poll commissioned by In The Public Interest shows Americans still hold public schools and teachers in high regard, want charter schools to conform to the same standards as conventional public schools, and oppose an over emphasis on standardized testing. “Billionaires and folks who run hedge funds have decided that the best way to make their political opponents weaker is to grow as many charters as possible,” said Donald Cohen, the group’s executive director. These forces have funded “an ongoing campaign to convince the American public that schools are bad” – but most people aren’t buying it.

Save the Schools: Opt Out of Standardized Testing

Parents and students should not ask permission to opt out of the high stakes standardized testing regimen. “We don’t need legislation to approve it,” said Dr. Denisha Jones, a board member of United Opt Out and an assistant professor of early childhood development at Howard University. “We need to say that we are opting out as an act of civil disobedience to protect education from the corporatization and the testing,” said Jones, who helped organize a recent national Opt Out conference, in Philadelphia.

New York Mayor de Blasio is No Progressive

Despite official denials, the New York City Police Department continues to operate under a “broken windows” philosophy, targeting mainly Black and brown men for minor violations under a quota summons system, according to Robert Gangi, director of the Police Reform Organizing Project. Mayor Bill de Blasio’s “support for those kinds of practices completely undermines his claim to be a progressive political leader, and that the main purpose of his administration is to successfully address social, racial and economic inequities,” said Gangi. “’Broken windows,’ driven by the quota system, is a central factor in creating those inequities.”

Clinton and Obama Have Honduran Activist’s Blood on Their Hands

The Obama administration and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton bear responsibility for the March 3 assassination of Honduran indigenous people’s leader Berta Caceres, said Beverly Bell, a founder of Other Worlds and long time friend and comrade of Caceres. The U.S. backed a military takeover of Honduras in 2009, and Clinton “even bragged of her role in the coup in the last book she wrote,” said Bell. “There is not any doubt who killed Berta Caceres. She has received more death threats from the government of Honduras than anyone could possibly count.”

Obama Woos Cuba, Targets Venezuela

President Obama, who will visit Cuba later this month to further “normalize” relations with that country, has intensified his military and economic subversion of Cuba’s ally, Venezuela. “At the very same moment that the U.S. is unfreezing relations with Cuba, it is continuing to destabilize, to undermine, to destroy the independent socialist nation of Venezuela,” said political analyst Eric Draitser, founder of StopImperialism.org.

 
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Black Agenda Radio for Week of September 7, 2015

Solitary Confinement to be Sharply Curtailed in California

A settlement between activist inmates and California prison officials will sharply limit the use of solitary confinement in the state. “I do believe there is a deepening movement away from solitary confinement in this country, and I think this settlement is a key moment in that movement,” said Alexis Agathocleous, of the Center for Constitutional Rights. He credits the victory to prisoners at the infamous Pelican Bay lockup and elsewhere who have staged hunger strikes against solitary confinement and other abuses since 2011. California leads the nation in enforced isolation of prisoners, with nearly 3,000 inmates locked down for months, years or decades at a stretch. Nationwide, about 80,000 inmates are in solitary on any given day – more than the total prison population of most countries.

DC Mayor is a Fugitive Slave Catcher

Muriel Bowser, the Black mayor of Washington, DC, proposes targeting all 10,000 of the city’s residents on probation or parole for surprise day or night searches, in their homes or on the street. Ex-offenders caught breaking any number of rules could be held for 72 hours without charge, before being set on a path back to prison. The mayor claims she’s trying to get guns off the street. However, renowned whistleblower Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, an activist with the Hands Up Coalition-DC and an editor and columnist for Black Agenda Report, said Bowser’s “recommendation is basically just a warmed-over regurgitation of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793,” which was based on the dictum “Once a slave, always a slave.” Bowser “is essentially saying, once you’ve been convicted of a crime, you are always a criminal,” said Coleman-Adebayo.

The Afro-Colombian Model for Self-Determination

Blacks in the U.S. can learn something from African descendants in Colombia, South America, the third-largest concentration of Black people outside of Africa, behind Brazil and the United States, said Ajamu Baraka, a founder of the U.S. Human Rights Network and editor and columnist for Black Agenda Report. Baraka lives in Colombia and took part in a conference of the Black Communities Process, or PCN, the country’s premier self-determinist organization. “They have built structures of organization in which they address, not just the political needs of their communities, but the material needs of their communities,” said Baraka. The PCN pursues a “dual power” strategy, building institutions outside of state control to confront challenges in education, culture, employment and food distribution. “PCN provides models that we can take a look at,” said Baraka.

New Film Documents Ferguson Rebellion

Independent filmmaker Ralph L. Crowder III has spent much of the summer screening his documentary Hands Up Don’t Shoot Our Youth Movement in cities across the country. Crowder says he set out to find what was unique to Ferguson, Missouri, that compelled “these strong Black people to make this kind of stand for justice.” But he soon learned that conditions in Ferguson “were the same as in the very city that I drove from,” Minneapolis. “The bottom line is that our youth are intelligent, they’re engaged with their own struggle, and in many ways they’re very disappointed and disengaged from the adults that claim to have leadership in our communities.”

High Stakes Testing Opt-Out Gains Momentum

The movement among parents to opt their children out of high stakes standardized tests is “growing by leaps and bounds,” said Dr. Pete Farruggio, a veteran educator and anti-privatization activist. “Experts in “psycho-metrics” – testing – “uniformly are opposed to the use of standardized tests to make any important decisions” in education, such as closing schools, firing teachers, and handing schools over to the private companies. The testing regime, said Farruggio, “is part of the whole neoliberal program of social control of the population, dumbing down the population, preventing critical thinking, and preventing the development of troublemakers – like you and me.”

 
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Black Parents Should Opt Their Children Out of High Stakes Testing

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

As usual, the Black Misleadership Class is on the wrong side of democracy, urging Blacks to submit to a high stakes testing regime that is designed to fail Black students, their teachers, their schools, and public education itself. “Everybody loses except the hedge funds and other billionaire investors in the charter school marketplace” – which is why President Obama has become “the biggest public school privatizer of all time.”

 
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Testing Public Education to Death in New York

by George Joseph and John Tarleton

The real teaching crisis in New York is “the failure to keep experienced and highly capable teachers and allow them to do their jobs.” The exodus of veteran teachers is by design. So-called “reformers” want to “transform teaching into a deskilled, low-wage job performed mostly by middle-class whites for a few years after college before moving on to other work.”

Why Was Atlanta's Beverly Hall Indicted For Racketeering While Michelle Rhee Won't Be?

By BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Atlanta's black former school superintendent and 34 other black teachers and administrators have been indicted for “racketeering” in a cheating scandal. Why aren't others like former DC Schools chancellor Michelle Rhee and her team indicted? Should we be rallying the racial wagons around Dr. Hall and the other 34? No way.

High Stakes Testing in Schools: Who’s Cheating Who?

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Corporate school privatizers feign disgust with teachers that cheat the standardized tests. But big business theft of public education is by far the greater sin. “The real cheats are those that pushed high stakes testing under the false pretexts of reform, when the actual goal was union busting and privatization.”

Send In the Clowns: 3 Stooges, Gingrich, Sharpton & Duncan Hit the Road For Corporate “School Reform”

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Bruce Dixon

Quite separately from each other, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Rev. Al Sharpton and Newt Gingrich have long ago forfeited whatever credibility they may once have had. Taken together, they are simply a bad joke: three grown men publicly eye-poking and slap fighting each other while they all come together to sell us high-stakes testing, charter schools, educational privatization and the whole package of corporate “school reform.”

 
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